ACS suggests less intake of copper, iron for older people

08:47, April 09, 2010      

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The American Chemical Society ( ACS) said on Wednesday that people over 50 should consider steps to cut copper and iron intake.

The ACS pointed to increasing scientific evidence linking high levels of copper and iron to Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, and other age-related disorders.

To reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other age-related disorders, older people should take specific steps to avoid build up of unhealthy amounts of these metals in their bodies, the ACS said in a report.

These steps include avoiding vitamin and mineral pills that contain cooper and iron; lowering meat intake: avoiding drinking water from copper pipes; donating blood regularly to reduce iron levels; and taking zinc supplements to lower copper levels.

Copper and iron are essential nutrients for life, with high levels actually beneficial to the reproductive health of younger people, but for people age 50 and above, high levels of these metals can damage cells in ways that may contribute to a range of age-related diseases, the report noted.

"This story of copper and iron toxicity, which I think is reaching the level of public health significance, is virtually unknown to the general medical community, to say nothing of complete unawareness of the public," said ACS toxicology expert George J. Brewer.

"It seems clear that large segments of the population are at risk for toxicities from free copper and free iron, and to me, it seems clear that preventive steps should begin now."

Copper and iron are essential but also toxic metals. Their essentiality is known, but their toxicity, except for the genetic overload diseases, Wilson's disease and hemochromatosis, is not so well known.

A very disturbing study has found that in the general population those in the highest fifth of copper intake, if they are also eating a relatively high fat diet, lose cognition at over three times the normal rate.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:王寒露)

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